ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSnewYork/AP) — Federal authorities in New Jersey have charged 22 people with running a large-scale drug operation.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the group sold large quantities of heroin and cocaine in Asbury Park, Neptune and surrounding towns in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties.

READ MORE: Paterson Mother Charged With Murder In 7-Year-Old's Death

Fourteen people were arrested Thursday, and seven remain at large.

The suspects range in age from 25 to 48 and have nicknames such as “Gotti,” “Fat Boy” and “Butter.”

They are charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, which carries a potential minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

Authorities used informants and intercepted cellphone conversations during the investigation. The suspects allegedly used code words and spoke in Haitian Creole to avoid detection.

READ MORE: 3 Teens Charged In Manhattan Subway Attacks, Police Release Video Of New Suspect Believed To Be Group's Lookout

In one recording, one suspected dealer tells a reputed ringleader she didn’t want to cut up and package heroin in front of her young kids, Fishman said. According to the prosecutor, the ringleader responded by saying: “Don’t worry. They’re so little. They won’t know what’s going on. They won’t find out until middle school.”

Carl Kotowski, Drug Enforcement Agency special agent-in-charge in New Jersey, told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Levon Putney, heroin use has grown in popularity, with bags selling for $5 to $10.

“In some cases, that’s cheaper than a six pack of beer,” Kotowski said.

Kotowski said some heroin users get addicted to the drug after abusing prescription pills.

MORE NEWS: With Injuries Piling Up Across New York City, Mayor De Blasio Is Considering Bicycles Being Required To Have License Plates

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
[display-posts category=”news” posts_per_page=”4″]
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)